Ear :: Inner-ear volume study leads to higher surgery success rates

Children suffering from holes in their eardrums could have better success rates following surgery, thanks to findings from doctors at West Virginia University.

The study was published in the February, 2007 issue of Otolaryngology ? Head and Neck Surgery, the official journal of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation. Conducted by doctors in the Department of Otolaryngology, the study measured success rates of patching eardrum holes based on volume or space measurements in the ear.

Holes result from either injury or prior ear problems, such as ear tubes. Perforated eardrums can predispose the ear to infection or result in hearing loss.

?Until this study, there were no clear guidelines as to when kids should have surgery to patch the holes,? Hassan Ramadan, M.D., principal investigator on the study, said. Dr. Ramadan is the vice-chair of the Department of Otolaryngology at WVU and director of the Sinus Center.

He and his co-investigators, Daniel Merenda, M.D.; Kazunari Koike, M.D. and Majid Shafiei have published findings that use a common test involving an audiologist?s probe tool, called a tympanometry, to measure the volume of ear space.

The doctors found that having higher tympanogram volumes could result in a nearly 90 percent success rate for patching the perforation.

The typmanometry probe is commonly used by ear specialists and consists of a loudspeaker emitting a low frequency tone, a microphone measuring sound pressure levels in the ear canal and a manometer, that also measures pressure.

Patients whose volume does not meet doctors? measurement specifications should wait to have an ear operation. Dr. Ramadan warns that patching too early can either lead to a fluid build up or not fully close the hole.

?Prior to this research, doctors typically looked at age and the child?s history of infections to decide when to patch,? Dr. Ramadan said. ?Our research proves that testing inner ear volumes allows specialists to be more scientific and accurate in their decisions of whether to operate.?

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